If you are single, you might think that getting sober will solve some of the romantic problems that you had when you were actively abusing alcohol and drugs. You no longer have to worry about embarrassing yourself by getting wasted after only one or two dates with someone, and you don’t have to worry about saying or doing things under the influence of alcohol or drugs that you wouldn’t have done had you been sober.
No more waking up next to strangers you don’t remember meeting. No more chemically-induced rages or crying fits triggered by being drunk. No more staggering or falling on your face. Without any more of those embarrassing experiences, meeting and relating to people of the opposite sex should be a lot easier now, shouldn’t it?
Emotional Rollercoaster of Early Sobriety
Although you might not have anywhere near as much drama sober as you had when you were using, your emotions aren’t ready for any drama. Early sobriety is full of unexpected feelings, and you might be overwhelmed by the depth and intensity of those feelings.
Dating is full of hopes and expectations. As an addict, you are in the habit of looking for something—or someone—outside yourself to make you feel better. Rushing into any kind of romantic attachment in early sobriety isn’t recommended for this reason. You may find that romantic involvement may trigger intense emotions that you simply aren’t ready to handle.
The greatest gift you can give yourself in early sobriety is time. Take your time when it comes to dating. You are still healing from the wreckage of the past.
Dating “Normal” People
At some point you may want to date someone who is not in recovery. Dating these “normal” people can bring a whole new set of challenges. It’s kind of amazing to realize how much dating and socializing revolves around drinking. It’s pretty common for a date to suggest getting together for a drink, having a drink with dinner or going to a nightclub.
Most likely someone who has never had a problem with alcohol or drugs won’t understand why you can’t have just one. You don’t want to tell people that they can’t drink around you, but it will probably always be a little bit uncomfortable if they do. You may experience having someone lose interest in dating you when they find out that you are in recovery.
Dating in Recovery
Dating other people in recovery has a different set of challenges. You may have different beliefs than the other person about what is important when it comes to recovery. For example, someone in recovery whom you are dating might tell you that you should go to more meetings or different meetings.
When you’re dating another recovering alcoholic or addict, there is always the possibility that the other person will relapse. This is one good reason to postpone dating. Most people recommend that newly sober people who are single wait at least a year before dating.
Practicing Acceptance as a Single Alcoholic or Addict
The key to everything, including dating, is acceptance. You have to strive to accept that you will be able to date when the time is right and that being sober doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges and disappointments when you venture into the dating arena.
You also may have to accept that you aren’t going to meet your one true love any time soon and that you may stay single for a while. Acceptance of yourself as a single person comes from taking the time to have a relationship with yourself. You need to get to know yourself on a sober level. Spend time finding out who you are and what makes you tick. Which activities make you enjoy life and appreciate the gift of sobriety? What are your goals and dreams?
Having a relationship with yourself is the foundation on which recovery is built. It’s the start of a happy, sober and single life.